Craving a little winter wonderland

So 2012 saw the wettest summer in the UK since records began and was the second wettest year in total. Nice. As if that wasn’t bad enough, research is now showing that this pattern of weather is expected to continue in the foreseeable future as a result of global warming. While I’m not going to get into the climate debate here, this is clearly something that is scary and regrettable. One side effect of all this recent wet weather has meant we had a wholly unfestive year in terms of Christmas weather – mild winter temperatures, heavy grey skies and persistent drizzle! Now I know that a lot of our preconceived romantic ideas about Christmases being white and icy come from Charles Dickens, who lived during a mini ice age, but being from Scotland, I’m afraid I have become rather used to a least a dusting of the white stuff in recent years and weather that’s at least cold enough for a snuggly hat. We managed a flew fleeting flurries that soon turned to sleet then back into heavy rain up north of the border this Christmas but sadly that was about it. So this has got me craving some ‘proper wintry festive weather’ prompting me to dig out some photos taken around my parent’s village from the last few Christmases. Hope this gives you your white Christmas fix too if you’ve also been craving some bracing cold! I’ve also thrown in a few winter sunsets for good measure!

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The calm of the Loch

So it’s been a few weeks since I last posted, I’ve unfortunately been somewhat in the proverbial black hole for the last wee while. While I won’t go into the details here, suffice to say it’s not been the most pleasant or enjoyable last few weeks nor the most calm or stress-free!

I did manage to disappear home to my village in Scotland for a quick weekend respite from it all at one point however and thought I’d share a couple of pictures that I took of the serene, calm loch at the foot of our village while I was there. The snow dusted hill in the background is the hill that our village perches at the bottom of. I saved these as a wallpaper on my phone and everytime I felt stressed or frustrated recently, I’d take a quick look and the picture would instantly transport me back to a place where I always feel calm and happy.

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I’ve still to catch up on all my favourite blogs, so I think I’ll take some time now to sit here in my battered wooden rocking chair in the window with my hot steaming mug of tea to catch up on what you’ve all been up to. 🙂


A walk around Dunnottar Castle

Last weekend I went to Aberdeen to visit a friend. Aberdeen is the city where I went to university and it’s always a happy occurrence for me to return. Sadly there are a lot less of my friends still living there now with people moving on to pastures new over recent years, but I still get up there for a visit every now and again. Whenever I’m in Aberdeen I always feel very nostalgic, I think this is probably common for anyone who doesn’t still live in the same place where they went to university. I feel a strong connection to a younger version of myself and to old friends and relationships. It’s strange how so many streets, restaurants and bars have strong connections to a certain person or event yet I don’t feel this nearly as much in Manchester, where I’ve actually been living for longer than I was in Aberdeen. Being there last weekend really made me miss Scotland and miss a time that seemed so much more simple care-free and where I felt a lot more independent than I do now here in Manchester. I used to know Aberdeen so well and could get around by myself easily, I still find Manchester a confusing place at times and find it overwhelmingly large. In Aberdeen, as a student, I had a clear purpose and was passionate about what I did. Now I’ve joined the real world and often wonder how I’ve ended up spending my days as I do and where I’m supposed to go next. Still, Manchester is where I met Rob and is where we have our lovely little house so things aren’t so bad! Aberdeen obliged and was its usual brilliant blue and sunny self, lifting my spirits and putting rain-sodden Manchester to shame. Did you know that Aberdeen actually gets the most hours of sunshine in the UK?! It’s just not necessarily the warmest! Perhaps that’s the real reason why things always seemed, literally, sunnier up there!

On the Saturday afternoon we drove just a little way out of the city to Dunnottar Castle, just outside Stonehaven. The castle is ruined but compared to many other ruined fortresses around the country still has an awful lot of its buildings vaguely in tact. The location, on a strip of rocky headland sticking out into the blue North Sea, is stunning. I stood in the castle gazing out of a “window” at the sea crashing against the rocks below, raising my eyes looking at the water stretching out into the horizon and marvelled at how the inhabitants would had admired the very same unchanging view many hundreds of years before. The castle’s location was clearly very strategic and therefore it was not surprising to learn that the Honours of Scotland, or the Scottish Crown Jewels, had been hidden here from Oliver Cromwell and his army during the seventeenth century. The beautiful cold sunny weather we enjoyed that day only added to the already spectacular, dramatic view.

 


Another weekend away from the kitchen

Yes, I have been away for yet another weekend. This time to a lovely cottage in the little village of Near Sawrey (the home of Beatrix Potter! Such happy childhood memories!) in the Lake District with the in-laws for a family birthday. All these weekends away to the countryside have been fantastic, I think it’s very healthy to get away from the city and daily grind as frequently as possible for some clean fresh air, exercise and relaxation. It makes me thankful to be in such easy striking distance of countryside in the Lake District, Peak District and Yorkshire living in Manchester – you really can have the best of both worlds! And if you can be as lucky as we have at this time of year to get some true cold, crisp sunny Autumnal days, you can enjoy some truly spectacular scenery. Aside from weekends away, the last few weeks have also been full of visitors and the likes of murder mysteries as well as general day to day manicness! This has all meant I’ve hardly spent anytime in the kitchen lately other than to whip up quick but relatively unexciting week night meals (think omelettes  stir fries and baked potatoes!) I’m looking forward to getting back into the kitchen soon, but in the meantime can’t really complain when I’ve been enjoying more stunning views like this!


Sunshine and Minarets

So I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about my lack of blogging recently but am still spending a large portion of my waking hours running around like a headless chicken so time is somewhat in short supply. So, as a bit of a quick cheat’s blog post, I thought I’d share some of my favourite non-food pictures from our trip to Istanbul earlier this year, which I wrote about in rather great lip-smacking detail in my first ever blog post! I’ve been thinking about Istanbul quite a lot these last few weeks, probably as I watch autumn creep in and wonder where our non-existent summer ever went… I’d give rather a lot to be meandering around the warm streets enjoying the hustle and bustle, sights and smells of this amazing city so full of culture and history right now… Sigh…


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Yes, I really need to learn how to display photos properly on here… Did I mention I was short of time?! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)